Chairman of the BVI Chamber of Commerce and Hotel Association (BVICCHA) Louis Potter has joined the growing number of critics who have accused the United Kingdom (UK) of not doing enough for Overseas Territories.
He criticised the UK government for not implementing adequate measures to ensure the British Virgin Islands had relief funding in the event of a disaster such as Hurricane Irma.
“That [is something] they should have accomplished or they should have been working on long time,” Potter said in a recent interview with BVI News.
“In a way, the British are the ones responsible for governance in the BVI… [and] the British are coming to the table with very little,” Potter added.
The BVICCHA chairman went on to compare the UK to other sovereign states such as France, which he said practised good governance over French territories also ravaged by Hurricane Irma last year.
“You have the French, you have the Dutch, and you have the British [governments]. The storm hit the region where all the countries were affected. The French President came down and he came walking with a few hundred million dollars. The US and the British are not coming up with enough. The British supply a significant amount of money to the European Union budget for aid. The French use their aid for their colonies. But not the British.”
Should BVI be independent?
Asked whether he felt the BVI would fare better if it severed ties with the UK, Potter said: “Personally the way the world is today, I don’t see a distinction [between an independent or dependent territory].”
“As an independent territory, the World Bank and the IMF are telling you what to do anyway. And as a colony (dependent territory), given the global climate change alliance and given the things that are happening, and your ability to go to any world conference through the Commission as the BVI, the difference are very blurred,” he explained.
In the meantime, government minister Ronnie Skelton is also among the critics who blasted the UK recently for what is being described as second-rate treatment to the BVI.
He made specific mention of the £300 million in loan guarantees the UK offered to the BVI and the strict conditions that came with the offer.
A loan guarantee is a promise by one party (the UK government) to pay the debt of a borrower (BVI Government) if that borrower fails to repay. Skelton said the UK is making the BVI appear as if they were prostitutes.